Getting education majors out of college classrooms and into schools and getting students out of schools and into their communities can give rural educators an advantage over their urban counterparts.
That’s one of the principles that underscore Missouri State University’s new Rural Education Center announced recently at the West Plains campus where the program will start by serving 34 school districts in its seven-county region.
The program, developed in concert with the place-based philosophy of the CFO’s Rural Schools Partnership and approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, will offer professional development for rural educators and administrators. It also will focus on resources and hands-on classroom experience for would-be teachers – both of which will benefit rural students in some of the most impoverished counties in the United States.
“This is going to be a collaborative hub for our Ozarks Teacher Corps’ model to recruit, prepare and retain teachers,” said CFO Senior Fellow Gary Funk, who announced that the Rural Schools Partnership is providing a $5,000 start-up grant to market and promote the Rural Education Center. “We are doing things here that are not being done anywhere else in the country. We all look forward to working with everyone in the future.”
The program will be coordinated by Dr. Don Hamby, an instructor at MSU-WP, who has an intrinsic commitment to rural education as a native of Dora, a town of about 1,000 in Ozark County.
“Our kids deserve a world-class education,” Hamby said. “Location shouldn’t be a detriment.”
Hartville Schools, which is in the region served by the Rural Education Center, provided on-site training for the fall meeting of the Ozarks Teacher Corps. At the MSU announcement, Hamby cited its Superindentent, Dr. Sharon Hayden, for her efforts to maximize resources in a small, rural district.
“The creation of a Rural Education Center will have a profound effect on the educators in rural Missouri,” Hayden said. “I look forward to the resources, inspiration, and opportunities to serve the unique needs of school professionals in Missouri’s rural areas.”